Chelsea get their 2014-15 season underway at Turf Moor on Monday night, hoping to start with three points against newly promoted Burnley. As the final one of the top sides to kick off in the league this weekend, Chelsea will be looking to lay down a marker to their rivals.
This game could see the debuts of many new stars who have joined the team over the summer. £32million signing Diego Costa could make his debut, along with ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas. Filipe Luis, who joined for £15million from Spanish Champions Atletico as well, could also make his debut.
On top of that, keeper Thibult Courtois could make his first Chelsea start, despite signing two years ago. The highly rated keeper has just returned from an extended loan spell at Atletico Madrid, and he looks like he could dislodge the previously ever-present Petr Cech from the number one position.
The goalkeeping position is Mourinho’s big decision heading in to this season. He says he’s already picked his first choice keeper, but choosing between Cech and Courtois won’t be easy. Cech has 10 years of experience at Stamford Bridge, but Courtois is seen as an incredible prospect, and he has just two years left on his contract. If he doesn’t get games soon, he could sign for another club on a pre-contract arrangement in 16 months time.
One man who won’t be making his second debut is Didier Drogba, with the club legend picking up an injury in pre-season which looks set to rule him out of this game. After rejoining the Blues on a free transfer, fans are desperate to see Drogba in a Chelsea shirt again. Drogba is likely to be more of an impact player this season, but his presence in the dressing room will be a welcome help in the title race.
Ramires still has one match of a suspension to serve from last season, so he won’t be making the trip up to Turf Moor. The Brazilian would have been unlikely to start anyway, with Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas the likely pairing in midfield.
As for the other midfield spots, it seems to be Eden Hazard and Oscar plus one more. Either Willian or World Cup winner Andre Schurrle will start against Burnley, with Schurrle looking favourite after a solid pre-season.
It’s not apparent what formation Chelsea will line up with in this game, or across the season for that matter. Last term Mourinho used a 4-2-3-1 for most of the campaign, but it is rumoured that Oscar will play in a deeper position, and Chelsea will go back to the 4-3-3 formation that was used in Mourinho’s first spell at the cub.
As for Burnley, they are odds-on to go down and they’ve invested little in the transfer window, keeping hold of their squad from last year plus adding some new faces on frees. On paper they don’t seem a test for Chelsea, but it was results in these kinds of games that cost the Blues the title last season. Three points here could actually be more important than they seem against what will be a stubborn Burnley outfit.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0